Identifying the Online Teaching Skills Gap
GGC was established in 2006 and has quickly grown to serve over 11,000 students through its metropolitan campus. GGC’s innovative model, culture and affordable tuition change the game in higher education. They proudly support students at all levels, of all ages and from all walks of life. Innovation is a theme throughout GGC’s vision and mission and is proven by their investment in new educational approaches.
In 2016, GGC researchers embarked on a study to fill a gap: preservice teachers needed more experience in teaching online. “Although they were able to use a learning management system as a student, they were not being prepared to use it to support online teaching and learning as future educators,” shares Samantha Mrstik, associate professor of special education at GGC. Whether tech-enabled learning was used for blended or fully online learning, snow or hurricane days, GGC knew that it was here to stay, and the college wanted to set its graduates up for success.
Teaching Teachers to Teach Online
To improve the way preservice teachers developed their knowledge and skills with technology in the Educator Preparation Program (EPP) at GGC, the TIP was established. Researchers designed the project with an emphasis on preservice teachers developing TPACK and understanding the relationships between and among technology and teaching.
Through the TIP, preservice teachers would gain skill sets to develop an online course in Brightspace, understand the tools available for teaching and grading, and then reverse roles to evaluate a peer’s approach to online course design from the student perspective.
Preservice teachers received a Brightspace sandbox for two years which allowed them to continue exploring Brightspace features, build upon their project and practice designing online courses. As members of the Brightspace Community, they could access an abundance of helpful resources and tips to support them along the way. They learned the functions of Brightspace and the capability of discussions, surveys, quizzes, audio feedback, embedded rubrics aligned to standards and much more.
The TIP seminars were delivered online through Brightspace, with a mixed format of asynchronous and synchronous class sessions. Through these sessions, the instructors not only taught best practices for online learning but also modeled them. This included:
- using evidence-based practices for question and answer in an online class
- setting up an organized module
- linking articles and activities
- grading and providing feedback
- monitoring student progress
The TIP was spread over multiple courses and semesters to authentically integrate technology learning into the EPP.
This project was an innovative idea for 2016, and it has been transformative for preservice teacher education. It has equipped pre-service teachers with the knowledge and skills to transform their on-ground teaching overnight to teaching online during their field placement, student teaching and first year teaching due to COVID-19.Rebecca Cooper, Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at GGC.
Increasing Self-Efficacy and Developing Leaders in Technology
This project has taken over four years to develop and grow based on participant data. Each year, the data reveals positive outcomes and suggests that as the preservice teachers become novice teachers, they have little difficulty setting up their online courses.
Of 175 former preservice teachers surveyed to measure TPACK, 95% agree or strongly agree that they can select technologies to use in their classroom that enhance what they teach, how they teach and what students learn. Meanwhile, 92% agree or strongly agree that they can provide leadership in helping others to coordinate the use of content, technologies and teaching approaches at their school and/or district. Not only that, but they’re also becoming leaders in technology early in their careers. They’ve been able to be active, contributing members of their teaching teams, often sharing, modeling or leading the way with Brightspace features—particularly in data analysis. “The partner school district utilizes Brightspace, so our graduates have a leg up since they come with pre-existing knowledge and skills as a result of the project,” says Amy Farah, associate professor of teacher education at GGC.
Upon graduating from the EPP, teachers have also reported increased technology self-efficacy. One participant in the study shared, “Based on the technology project, building my own online class and taking a class online, I feel prepared to use my skills at my field placement. I have also added to my repertoire an abundance of technological tools that can be used to enhance and accommodate students’ learning. I have no doubt that I will be able to succeed in utilizing technology tools.”
The TIP continues to evolve and serve preservice teachers to this day. The innovation and outcomes-driven focus of GGC is helping to bring technology-enabled learning to the next level and, in turn, transforming the way the world learns.